Who is connecting, succeeding, and taking their ideas to the next level with swissnex San Francisco?
To connect the dots between Switzerland and North America in science, education, art, and innovation. More
At a Glance
We are a platform for the exchange of knowledge and ideas. We help expand networks and facilitate partnerships between Swiss and North American academics, creative thinkers, entrepreneurs, and innovators. We create opportunities by sharing our office, hosting out-of-the-box events, working under several mandates for a diverse set of clients, connecting thought leaders, and offering a global perspective and local expertise within the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley.
We are a public-private venture and an initiative of Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), managed in cooperation with the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs as an annex of the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco. swissnex San Francisco is part of a knowledge network in Bangalore, Boston, Shanghai, and Rio de Janeiro, along with individual science counselors around the world, working to connect the dots.
Founded: Nov 2003
Budget: ~USD $2.7M
Visitors & Interactions: ~5,500/year
Companies/Organizations Sharing Our Office: 10
Number of swissnexes Globally: 5
In 1997, the Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research announced they were looking for a Swiss science and technology counselor to be based in San Francisco. Christian Simm, swissnex San Francisco’s future founder, was intrigued. Up until this point, counselors were typically located at centers of science policy rather than at innovation hubs, as the Bay Area and Silicon Valley had become.
Simm signed on, and it wasn’t long before the roots of swissnex took hold. Wherever he went, whomever he told about working in the region, people wanted in. Companies, scientists, and innovators in Switzerland expressed interest in sending representatives, while Swiss organizations already in the Silicon Valley were ready to team up. Simm was beginning to connect the dots, and he soon envisioned creating an office that embraced a cooperative model in which science, business, innovation, and diplomacy shared a roof and encouraged interaction. Private donors supported the idea, the Swiss government signed off on the experimental approach to diplomacy, and swissnex was born.
A similar model was taking shape on the East Coast, and in October 2000, swissnex Boston opened, followed by swissnex San Francisco’s official launch in 2003. For the first public event, Switzerland’s Alinghi team, defender of America’s cup, drew crowds. At our grand opening, industrial designer Yves Behar spoke on coming up with our logo and Lexicon Branding outlined their approach to creating the swissnex name, which combines the words Switzerland, nexus, and next. Today, the swissnex network is expanding and swissnex San Francisco continues to connect the dots between Switzerland and North America in science, education, art, and innovation.
At the Helm
CEO, swissnex San Francisco
Switzerland’s Science & Technology Counselor for Western U.S. and Western Canada
In December 1997, Christian Simm opened the Swiss Science and Technology Office in San Francisco to foster high-level exchanges in research, education, innovation, and the arts. With partnerships in both the private and public sectors, he grew the one-man operation into a team that is 18-people strong today.
Under his leadership and vision, swissnex San Francisco, as the office is now known, established a sophisticated knowledge exchange platform comprising, among other activities, regular visits from academics, innovators, artists, and scientists; a series of highly successful events that encourage networking and collaboration between Switzerland and North America; mandates for a diverse set of clients, from startups to Fortune 500s to universities to cantons; and a stimulating community that brings startups, established companies, and university outposts working in Switzerland and North America under one roof to further connect the dots.
Before swissnex, Christian was the director of CAST (now Alliance), the industrial liaison office at the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Switzerland, and was influential in fostering Swiss participation in several European initiatives including the Comett and Leonardo programs. He also worked as a research project leader at INRS-Energie/Hydro-Québec in Montréal, Canada, and co-founded a process management company.
Christian is author of newspaper and magazines articles, and is an individual member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from EPFL and postgraduate management degrees from IMD and the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. He is fluent in French, German, and English.
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